Hezbollah says will keep fighting if Israel presses on with assault on Gaza

Hezbollah chief Nasrallah says support for Gaza is ‘final’, as cross-border fighting displaces thousands of people.

Smoke plumes erupt during Israeli bombardment on the village of Alma al-Shaab in south Lebanon on April 25, 2024 amid ongoing cross-border tensions as fighting continues between Israel and Palestinian Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. (Photo by AFP)
Smoke plumes erupt during Israeli bombardment on the village of Alma al-Shaab in south Lebanon, amid ongoing cross-border tensions as Israel's assault on Gaza continues [File: AFP]

The head of powerful Lebanese armed group Hezbollah said that residents of northern Israel would not be able to return home for the start of the next school year if their government pressed on with its assault on the Gaza Strip.

Hezbollah has been exchanging fire with the Israeli military across Lebanon’s southern border in parallel with the Gaza assault that began on October 7. The Iran-aligned armed group has said it is launching rockets at Israel both to support its ally, the Palestinian group Hamas which governs Gaza, and to deter Israel from launching an attack on Lebanon.

In a televised address on Monday, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah repeated that the group would continue fighting as long as Israel continued its assault on Gaza.

“The link between the supportive Lebanese front and Gaza is definitive, final and conclusive,” he said. “No one will be able to de-link them.”

The fighting has displaced tens of thousands of people on both sides of the Israel-Lebanon border and prompted fears of a bigger war between the heavily armed adversaries.

Israel has said it wants to secure the north for residents to return home, either through a mediated diplomatic agreement or a military attack against Lebanon. Families displaced from northern Israel had been hoping to return home by September 1 for the start of the academic school year.

‘Tell them to stop the war on Gaza’

Nasrallah addressed the displaced, saying: “If you want to solve the issue, go to your government and tell them to stop the war on Gaza.”

He added that Israel is now at a “dead end” in its widely criticised operation in southern Gaza’s Rafah, as they struggle to dismantle Hamas despite months of bombarding the tiny Palestinian enclave, killing at least 35,000 Palestinians.

Israeli forces have also resumed ground and air attacks on northern Gaza’s densely populated Jabalia refugee camp on Monday, after previously saying troops withdrew from the mostly devastated north.

Nasrallah said military activity from Hamas’s allies in Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon – all of which are backed by Iran – have pressured Israel’s army during its war in Gaza.

Efforts by Egypt and Qatar to secure a ceasefire in Gaza faltered last week after Israel effectively rejected a proposal from international mediators.

Israeli forces on Monday pushed deep into the ruins of Gaza’s northern edge to recapture an area in which they claimed to have dismantled Hamas months ago, while in the south, tanks and troops pushed across a highway into the overcrowded city of Rafah.

The Israeli military also continued attacks on Lebanon over the weekend and on Monday, security sources said. Hezbollah has responded with rocket fire, and Nasrallah said his group was “continuing to develop its operations in quantity and quality”.

Israeli attacks have killed more than 350 people in Lebanon, most of them fighters with Hezbollah and allied groups, but also including more than 50 civilians. In Israel, attacks from Lebanon have killed at least 10 civilians and 12 soldiers.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies